Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Like everybody else, I've been watching the news from Joplin about the tornado that hit there. My hopes and prayers go out to those folks. I know the kind of fear that takes hold of you when a tornado appears.

Years ago, we were living in Charleston, Il, when a tornado hit the southeast edge of town. It set down near where we were living. Here's a poem I wrote about the time before the tornado and the time just after.

My Daughter Lillian is Outside Playing

In the quiet space of the dining room
My wife and I lay out the place settings

The forks beside the Wedgwood plates
The spoons and knives in their places.

A napkin in her hand, she pauses
And tells me again of how her mother

Would starch and iron the squares of cotton
Wash the plates by hand and again by machine.

I smile, nod my head and turn to the window
See the roof next door lift, shingles

Exploding like scattered sparrows, and there
It is—the howl of the locomotive wind

And then a pounding at the glass door
And a screaming that will not stop.